'The Spell Begins to Break' from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis
Illustration by Paul Baynes
Novel Excerpt (1950)
The White Witch's spell, that makes it always winter and never Christmas in Narnia, is breaking. Father Christmas has come to Narnia with gifts for the Pevensie children.
This book is another great classic, and another favourite of mine, and - like Little Women much earlier in the collection - it deserves to be butter in this Christmas sandwich. The Father Christmas chapter is very striking, and unlike anything else I have chosen, with Father Christmas being a more noble and serious figure than tradition dictates. The gifts he brings are weapons for Peter, Susan and Lucy to fight (or more accurately in the girls' case, to defend themselves) against the evil queen and her army (we can also suppose he brought something for the absent Edmund, but we never learn what it was). Of course Lewis meant us to understand that Narnia is deprived of more than presents and feasts with the disappearance of Christmas. Aslan's presence breaks Jadis's spell in many ways, though the religious connotations are not overstated here, which perhaps the harsher critics will approve of - but never mind them. The story is for children, as is my Christmas collection. This piece is exciting, striking and empowering for them, and shows Christmas in a unique way, while still it is a beacon of hope and signifies something very special.
' "These are your presents," was the answer, "and they are tools, not toys. The time to use them is perhaps near at hand. Bear them well." '
C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (HarperCollins Children's Books, 2001), p.118.